PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Cristian Roldan, who led El Rancho High
to the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 title match,
is the Daily News Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
(Keith Durflinger / Staff Photographer)
El Rancho High School enjoyed in 2012 what for most schools would consider to be a dream season.
The Dons, looking to earn consecutive CIF-Southern Section Division 4 boys soccer titles, won 26 of 27 games and were ranked in ESPN.com’s national top 10 for much of the season.
The glue for El Rancho, which featured arguably the most talented lineup in the area in recent memory, was junior midfielder Cristian Roldan, whose play in the center keyed the Dons’ road to 26 consecutive victories before losing, 3-0, to Crescenta Valley in the Division 4 title game.
For his efforts, Roldan is Daily News Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
Roldan is joined on the All-Area team by El Rancho teammates Francisco Lara, Miguel Vilchis, Efrain Velasco, Roberto Hernandez and David Lopez; Montebello’s Cristian Zuniga and Gabriel Mancilla; La Habra’s Eric Sandoval and Joe Araiza; La Serna’s Francisco Saucedo; and Whittier’s Juan Rentana.
But this is a season that will long be remembered for El Rancho’s dominance, and Roldan had a major hand in that success.
“I felt like I did improve this year,” said Roldan, who was first-team All-CIF-SS Division 4 for the second consecutive season. “I felt we played more as a team this year.
“But injuries caught up to me. I was unable to play a couple of games and that could have helped my year.”
BOYS SOCCER ALL-AREA TEAM
Player of the Year – Christian Roldan, El Rancho, Jr.
Coach of the Year – Dominic Picon, El Rancho
F – Francisco Lara, El Rancho
F – Eric Sandoval, La Habra, So.
F – Cristian Zuniga, Montebello,
MF – Miguel Vilchis, El Rancho, Jr.
MF – Joe Araiza, La Habra, Sr.
MF – Francisco Saucedo, La Serna, Sr.
D – Gabriel Mancilla, Montebello
D – Efrain Valasco, El Rancho, Sr.
D – Roberto Hernandez, El Rancho, Jr.
D – Juan Retanna, Whittier, Sr.
GK – David Lopez, El Rancho, Jr.
F –Jaime Moreno, El Rancho, Junior
F– Miguel Mendoza, Schurr, Senior
MF — Daniel Gonzalez, Whittier Junior
MF — Cristobal Guerra, California, Senior
MF — Alex Roldan, El Rancho, Sophomore
MF — Noah Cook, Whittier Chr., Senior
MF — Jaime Ayala, Pioneer, Senior
D — Ryan Rivera, La Serna, Senior
D — Mikael Zenteno, La Serna, Senior
D — Enrique Martin, Montebello, Senior
GK — David Rojas, Whittier, Senior
It still was pretty good for the junior, who was clearly the best player on the best team. He helped the Dons to some impressive victories early in the season, including winning the prestigious North Orange County Classic.
El Rancho then went 10-0 to win the Del Rio League before advancing to its second consecutive Division 4 title game.
Roldan enjoyed the ride, but he did say it was a lot more difficult this season, dealing with the fanfare of a possible undefeated season and a national ranking.
“There was a lot of pressure, especially throughout the school,” he said. “I felt like we were supposed to win and we had a lot of support from the school. We were able to get through it and have a good season.”
But the ending didn’t go as planned.
Crescenta Valley was 20-0-7 and had a little too much for the Dons, scoring a 3-0 victory to win the Division 4 title.
“We were perfect until the last game,” Roldan said. “We had a real good season. Our players matured throughout the season, and we played as a team.
“But our record could have been less than what it was. We had a couple of (games) that were just one-goal wins. But it was a great season. It just didn’t end the way we wanted it to end.”
Another big key for the Dons was Picon, who guided the Dons through some tough stretches with injuries and the pressure of living up to the national ranking and got his team back to the title game.
“Overall, it was a successful season,” Picon said. “We had an incredible record, we got back to the championship game. There were a few things that caught up to us, like injuries.
“One of the disappointing things was that most people watch you in the playoffs and I don’t think we showed at the end of the season what we showed at the beginning. That was the disappointing part. But the kids did a good job, because 26-1 is nothing to be upset about.”
Lara and Velasco lead El Rancho’s first-team selections. Both were first-team All-CIF-SS Division 4, with Lara earning Del Rio League offensive player of the year honors.
Hernandez, Vilchis and Lopez earned first team All-Del Rio League.
Zuniga and Mancilla were part of Montebello’s one-two punch and keyed the Oilers’ road to the Almont League title. Zuniga was league most valuable offensive player and Mancilla the league defensive MVP.
Sandoval and Araiza, who each scored seven goals, helped La Habra to the Freeway League title.
Retana was the top defensive player in the Del Rio League, while Saucedo earned first team all-league after helping La Serna to second place behind El Rancho.